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Sweden And Finland Begin The Process Of Formally Joining NATO

Sweden and Finland are holding talks with NATO officials in Brussels on starting the formal process to join the Western military alliance -- a move that would mark a dramatic departure from the Nordic countries’ long-standing policies of nonalignment on military matters.

The July 4 talks are being led by Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde and Finnish counterpart Pekka Haavisto and follow an agreement with NATO member Turkey last week that led to Ankara dropping its objections to their membership.

On July 5, ambassadors from NATO's 30 member states are expected to sign the accession protocols for Sweden and Finland. It is then likely to take a few months before their memberships are ratified by all alliance members.

The historic shifts by Sweden and Finland came in the face of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine in February and other aggressive moves by the Kremlin in the region. Public opinion in the Nordic countries quickly turned in favor of NATO membership following the invasion.

Ankara initially said it would veto their membership, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing them of providing havens for Kurdish militants operating in Turkey and for promoting what he called “terrorism.”

Following negotiations, Erdogan said he would drop his objections but indicated he could still block their membership bids if they failed to follow through on promises, some of which were undisclosed.

By RFE/RL

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